“Jobs to be Done” (JTBD) is a tool that lets us look at customer needs from an entirely different perspective. Taking this approach, we forget about the features of a digital product. For a moment, we push aside thinking about technical innovations and improvements. Instead of focusing on the product we offer, we concentrate on the tasks that our customers want to undertake. Read on to find out more.


Starting from the basics, “Jobs to be Done” (JTBD) is a framework that lets us better understand what drives customers to choose our product. What problem do they want to solve? What do they use our application for, and in what situations? Why do they install a new program on their computer and why do they uninstall it? This approach enables a more profound and, above all, contextual analysis of customer needs. And that’s what truly matters when managing modern digital products.

What is Jobs to be Done?

The Jobs to be Done framework was developed by Clayton Christensen, a professor at Harvard Business School. He describes it in “Competing Against Luck. The Story of Innovation and Customer Choice.” According to his theory, people choose a given product to perform a specific task. In other words, they choose an application because:

  • it settles invoices, and not because it is equipped with OCR,
  • it isolates from the surroundings, not because it provides a great selection of relaxing music,
  • makes it easier to remember what they need to buy, not because it allows them to add products to their list based on a photo.

So if we understand what tasks customers want to do, it will be much easier to propose innovative solutions to meet their needs, and then develop those product features that made them choose it. However, how to conduct an effective customer analysis?

Know your customers’ “jobs to be done”

The Jobs to be Done method allows us to identify the “jobs” that our customers want to accomplish. We can ask the following questions to gain a comprehensive understanding of the customers’ needs and motivations:

  • What is the main job or task that the customer is trying to accomplish?
  • When do they typically perform this job or task?
  • Who else is involved or affected when they perform this job?
  • What are the alternatives or solutions they currently use to fulfill this job?
  • How much time, effort, or money do they spend on completing this job?
  • Who are they?

Understanding the customer’s needs in context will help us create an effective solution for their problem. But how do we begin this research?

Jobs to be Done example

The Jobs to be Done theory has been applied in various industries. For example, McDonald’s noticed that many people buy milkshakes in the morning. Through careful analysis, they discovered that these customers weren’t buying the milkshakes solely for their taste. In fact, they needed a convenient breakfast option for their daily commute. In response to this insight, McDonald’s developed a thicker and more filling milkshake that better served this purpose. This strategic move led to a substantial increase in milkshake sales.

Another example can be Duolingo, a language-learning app. Users don’t just want an app that will help them memorize vocabulary. They are looking for something engaging and enjoyable, making their commute or breaks more fun. At the same time, they want to feel productive and effectively learn a new language at their own pace.

How to implement “Jobs to be Done” in product management?

Implementing the Jobs to be Done framework requires analyzing customer needs to understand the exact “jobs” they want to accomplish, and then adapting the product, communication, and sales strategy accordingly.

For example, if you run an online clothes store, you may notice that your customers not only want to refresh their wardrobe but also choose new outfits that would match their existing pieces. To cater to their needs, you could consider adding a product comparison feature to your store. This way, customers will spend more time browsing through clothes and might even recommend your store to their friends if you enable them to share their self-created outfits on social media.

The Jobs to be Done framework and other approaches to product management

The Jobs to be Done method is just one of many approaches to product management. Agile, Scrum and Kanban, or lean product management also aim to better understand customers’ needs and tailor products to meet them. However, this is the Jobs to be Done framework that focuses on “jobs”, i.e., what is accomplished through the product, rather than the ways of solving an already defined problem.

For instance, in Agile, we focus on delivering value to the customer through regular iterations and product improvement. Scrum concentrates on achieving certain goals within a specific timeframe (sprints). Kanban emphasizes smooth workflows and obstacle elimination. Lean product management aims to eliminate waste and deliver what the customer really needs.

Jobs to be Done


What ”jobs” do your customers want to perform? What are their real needs that your products or services can meet? How can you customize your product to address them?

The Jobs to be Done framework lets us look at these problems from a completely different perspective. So if you’re not sure what “job” your digital product does, take a step back and analyze your customers’ needs. And don’t forget to check out Clayton Christensen’s book for further insights.

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Jobs to be Done. Creating products that customers truly need | Product management #24 andy nichols avatar 1background

Author: Andy Nichols

A problem solver with 5 different degrees and endless reserves of motivation. This makes him a perfect Business Owner & Manager. When searching for employees and partners, openness and curiosity of the world are qualities he values the most.

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  24. Jobs to be Done. Creating products that customers truly need
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